Small Acts of Education

You know the meme about how the internet lets us have the knowledge of the world at our finger tips, yet we use it to look at cat videos? Well it’s true. As a society we have unprecedented access to documentaries, history videos, articles, and newspapers, yet we very rarely engage in this activity. We instead choose to use our online hours scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or, my guilty pleasure, the humor section of Pinterest. There’s nothing wrong with using technology as relaxation, but I encourage you to branch out in your weekly scrolling to learn a thing or two.

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Coursera.org is an amazing resource. I stumbled across the site while we were living abroad and I wanted to ensure my weekdays were spent productively while everyone was at work. You can enroll in college courses, taught by actual professors, and learn through weekly videos and quizzes. You choose any topic of your liking and complete the course within the given time frame. As a history enthusiast, I take as many history courses as I can. I am currently enrolled in a class about the Constitution and Supreme Court cases and find it very enjoyable.

YouTube can be used for good and evil. One of my favorite things to do is to search for videos on topics that pique my interest at the moment. Just be aware of the video source! Obviously anyone can post anything they like. There are a number of old History Channel style documentaries out there, my favorite channel for quick and interesting lessons is Crash Course. I am making my way through the U.S. History playlist.

Read for pleasure. Read for knowledge. I will reread Harry Potter for decades to come, but I am aware that does little to expand my knowledge of society. Previously, I could make my way through a book a week. I have always loved reading, however my pace has slowed recently. Currently I finish a book a month, and I try to balance the topic. If I read a lighthearted book one month, I shift to a mystery, then a history book or two. My best literary purchase was No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a book about FDR, Eleanor, and their presidential and personal history. Though over six hundred pages long, I was fascinate from beginning to end. I bought the book on a whim from the clearance section of a Barnes and Noble. Go to book stores or scour online vendors, Half.com has great items too. Read things you agree with, read things that challenge your views, and don’t be afraid to choose something you originally wouldn’t have given a second glance. That’s where a lot of the gems are hidden.

Engage in civil debates. This one can be tricky, as a number of topics make people very heated very quickly. Shying away from controversial topics often only breathes more life into them, as does going into a conversation ready for a verbal battle. Listen. Process. Respond. The hope is both parties come away with something new to ponder.

Podcasts. Each month I try to include my favorite podcast, some are for fun, but most are inspiring and educational. True crime listening is still where my heart lies, but you can learn quite a lot from those as well. Look up what piques your interest in each episode of your chosen show.

Lastly, research constantly. Whether you are simply looking up a new word or delving into economic policy, don’t hesitate to question what you hear. Wanting to learn more keeps your brain working in new ways and, hey, it can make for more entertaining dinner conversation as well.

Read up!

November Favorites

Let the holiday season commence. Thanksgiving is just over a week away. How insane. Going through the holidays this year will have a whole new meaning as it is our first with a baby. While he will be too small to remember it, I intend to make memories all the same. My mind isn’t quite in a holiday state yet, as is reflected in my favorites this month. I am still all about my cold brew and Netflix, not quite ready to give in to a more festive routine. Enjoy!

Podcast

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Stuff Mom Never Told You – When I’m not binge listening to true crime or my guilty pleasures, I like to learn a little something. SMNTY, pronounced “sminty”, covers a number of todays hottest female related topics such as gender stereotypes, feminism, and whether men are just more inclined to be geniuses (spoiler: no). They have new episodes once or twice a week, and their archives are full of gems as well.

Drink

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Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew – This weather has been unseasonably warm, so I am not ready to slip into my regular order of a Gingerbread Latte. If you’re an iced coffee or cold brew fan, this one is for you. I love my hot coffee straight up, no cream or sugar, but this is a perfectly sweet cold option.

Netflix Series

the-crown

The Crown – Kate Middleton really brought the monarchy back to the public eye, but Queen Elizabeth is such a badass in her own right. This drama is based on the Windsor House, particularly Queen Elizabeth. The series is so well cast, you feel yourself drawn in right away. I have been obsessed with England since we went for a visit two years ago and this helps me feel a little more connected to my Anglophile soul.

Cleaning Item

wireless-wipes

Wireless Wipes – When Clint goes down to nap, I try to spend five to ten minutes doing a quick clean up of the house. Putting his toys away, wiping down the kitchen counters, or sanitizing our electronics. You can get these wipes on Amazon, I use them twice a week on average on everything from phones to my laptop to the baby monitor. One wipe typically cleans everything and things dry quickly so you can use them right away.

What series are you currently loving? Netflix or otherwise? Fill me in below!

 

Small Acts of Organization

No one has free time anymore. And if you do, it’s spend scanning emails or sitting and thinking, trying to remember that one thing that escaped your mind earlier in the day. Your house is a constant mess, you could never have friends and coworkers over spontaneously. Laundry is not done when you need it, let alone ironed! Your nails are chipped, your hair is over grown, and you cringe at the sight of your dirty car interior.

You may relate to one, or all, of the above scenarios. Just typing brought on a rather intense amount of stress. The point is, we’re all too busy and distracted. We spend hours pinning cleaning schedules and recipes, but never implement them into our routines. I am absolutely guilty of this, I adore an all encompassing to do list. Yet often times, all the tasks remain unchecked, in eternal undone limbo.

So without further ado I present to your my November series “Small Acts…” I intend to provide you with fast, valuable ways to improve your daily life. The holidays are here and New Year’s Resolutions will be made before too long, so what better time to start improving ourselves in the smallest of ways? We’ll kick off with possibly the nearest and dearest to my heart, organization. I’ve mentioned previously my affinity for planners – I even color blocked my daily time line back in college, long before it was cool. I have also posted about the importance of schedules, whether for cleaning or for your family. The point is to prioritize what will make your life easier.

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Meal planning – I plan by the week, not the day. I have a set list of recipes I will make for the week (meatloaf, tacos, chicken and rice, chicken with barbecue sauce or a good french mustard…) and the other dinner are pasta, frozen pizza, or leftovers. Something quick and easy that we always have on hand. Which way do you prefer? If you prefer the set schedule so you can prep in advance, plan by the day. Sometimes we’ll have just had chicken for lunch or my husband ate lunch late, or didn’t have time for lunch at all. I am able to adapt to each situation.

Scheduling – We don’t have a lot going on outside of the home right now. Once Clint is old enough for sports, school, and activities, he will get his own color coded pen. Scheduling currently involves housework, exercise, pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, and any appointments for myself. If I have an upcoming time period where I will be away from Clint, that means I need to prepare and pump a bottle for him. Knowing my grocery days aids in my aforementioned meal planning. Scheduling my workouts helps keep me accountable, I schedule five a week, though often I get in three or four. Since we go on frequent walks and I am currently breastfeeding, I don’t sweat it too much.

Planners/Calendars – Bullet journals are awesome. Well, they look awesome. At the moment, I don’t have the time or energy to create a weekly layout and plan, so I need a good planner instead. I love planners you can take with you, something large enough to hold an extra notepad or birthday cards to send out. Another alternative is keeping everything digital in an Apple or Google Calendar. I do both, a digital and physical calendar. You can share events on your digital one and I like the tangibility of having things written down as well. For a family, you may want to add in a calendar command center as well. A prominently displayed wall calendar with everyone’s schedule on it. This makes cross referencing easy and provides visual reminders.

Daily cleaning – I keep my housework on a weekly schedule, but there are certain tasks I do every day. Sweeping the kitchen, either washing dishes or running the dishwasher, wiping down surfaces as I go in both the kitchen and bathrooms. There are also certain windows our dog is obsessed with looking out of, I have to clean them every day or every other day. If I spend five or so minutes a day doing all of this, at least I am not totally off guard when someone stops by. Yeah, I would love for everything to be perfect all the time, but at least things are mostly clean.

Single tabbing – The majority of us have the tendency to get online and open up a few websites at once. Netflix, your favorite blog, something you intend on researching maybe, next thing you know, half an hour has gone by and your haven’t done much of anything. This is a bad habit of mine. I am working on only opening one thing at a time, I watch the video I want or look up that one thing I was curious about and am able to get off the computer faster. Give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes.

Keep an open mind. Try a couple of these tips out and see how they do, or don’t, work for you.

October Favorites

HAPPY FALL! I am stoked for this time of year. Though I have yet to down my first hipster Pumpkin Spice Latte (anyone else over this pumpkin spice everything craze?) I have been enjoying the outdoors with long leisurely walks each day. I hope a few of my favorites can help you enjoy October at a more relaxing speed as well.

Podcast 

the-bitch-bible

The Bitch Bible – Host Jackie Schimmel isn’t looking to take anything too seriously. And that is exactly the attitude I need in my life right now as I face down a baby in the middle of a sleep regression phase. Her honest conversations are refreshing and not overly rehearsed. Major language disclaimer, but worth a listen if that doesn’t offend you.

Nail Polish

essie

Hi Maintenance by Essie – Fall is usually about dark colors, but I am all about this neutral and light pink. I use three coats to get the perfect opaque, but not overly so vibe.

Drink

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Trader Joe’s Mint Melange Tea – I love to sip on something warm this time of year. TJ’s mint melange tea is just minty enough with out being too pepperminty or overwhelmingly refreshing. It’s comforting and is the perfect way to relax before bed in the evening, or to enjoy while savoring a quiet moment.

Baby Item

coconut-oil

Coconut Oil – Baby skin is sensitive. You want to preserve that freshness, but often the more you put on, the more you can risk irritation. Every night Clint gets a little baby massage with organic coconut oil. Then his cozy pajamas help it soak in his skin while he sleeps. Not only does he smell amazing, but it helps Clint stay soft and smooth.

Way to Unwind

moon-x-pinot-noir

Moon X Pinot Noir – Yup. Another Trader Joe’s fave of mine. This gem is $6.99 a bottle, plus I find it far superior to most $15+ reds. It’s crazy smooth, providing a welcome transition from a summer rose to the delicious reds of winter. Pour it in your fanciest wine glass and throw back a couple of glasses.

Reading Material

texture

Texture – Alright, my faves are running a bit long this month, but I had to throw this one in too. I have a couple of must have magazine subscriptions – Real Simple, Food & Wine – but outside of that I can usually take it or leave it due to the sheer volume and price of newsstand magazines. Enter Texture. You can peruse a variety of topics from business to fashion to my guilty pleasure: gossip mags. The current issues and a number of back issues are accessible, which is awesome when you’re on a binge reading kick. Before you sign up, do a google search to check if there are any current promos. For example, I just got three months for ten dollars. Awe. Some.

Stay cozy!!! xx.

Quick and Healthy “Sausage” Zucchini Dish

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The best thing about fall is eating seasonally means all the squash varieties you can get your hands on! I love spaghetti squash, but am horrible at slicing it effectively. I know zoodles (zucchini noodles) are the new pasta, but spiralizers are surprisingly expensive! I prefer a chop and go method. My new favorite lunch is vegetarian – and can be vegan if you omit or alter the cheese.

Ingredients:
– 1 tablespoon coconut oil
– 1 zucchini squash, sliced
– approx 1 cup mushrooms
– 2 veggie sausage patties (I prefer Trader Joe’s breakfast sausage patties in the freezer section)
– 1/2 cup marinara sauce
– 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella
– Fresh black pepper

Directions:
In a large pan heat coconut oil until melted, add zucchini. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, flip zucchini slices. Add mushrooms, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, heat up sausage patties in the microwave, about 45 seconds on each side. Chop up sausage patties, add to pan with marinara sauce. Cook until your dish is steaming. Plate it and add cheese and black pepper to taste.

What’s great about this, is nothing is exact. Meaning you don’t have to keep a close eye on it while your babe is fussy… When it’s done, you have a fast, cozy fall dish that is packed with nutrition and will actually keep you full. Happy noshing!

Surviving Sleep Regression

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Around two and a half months into motherhood, I got really cocky. Clint was sleeping through the night (8 pm – 5 am, nurse, sleep until 8), and I was beginning to catch up on my own deficit. Three weeks ago, that all went away. Clint is now getting up two to three times a night, and though I am able to phase him away from that some nights, we have a ways to go before things smooth out.

The regression is frustrating. I feel like we’re back at square one. Some days my patience does not exist, and we have a relatively calm baby! We are fortunate, but those fussy moments can be grating for any parent, especially as your one sleep cycle is increasingly thrown off.

I know we will get through this soon, but until then I’ve needed some help.

Collagen is awesome. We’re all familiar with collagen and its anti aging effects being plastered on skin care products for years. Now, a lot of collagen supplements help improve the appearance of your skin by keeping it hydrated.

I don’t have the time, or the desire, to apply a lot of make up in the morning. Prioritize. A good concealer is a must, I am really liking Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser. It offers coverage without being super cakey, because sleep deprivation and poorly blended concealer is a horrible look on anyone.

Cold brew gets me through my mornings. I make it with some mocha syrup, or just cinnamon and almond milk depending on what I am feeling that day. It helps keep me full and energized as I workout and sneak in a few household tasks while Clint naps.

The Office/Parks & Rec/Golden Girls, essentially, comedic relief for when things get rough. We aren’t big television watchers, but I enjoy the background noise of my favorite shows. They help to keep me entertained and laughing without requiring any concentration. If I get a quiet moment, I enjoy my Poirot episodes on Netflix, or if I am really lucky I can knock a few pages out of a book. It’s rough going at the moment!

Prep your breakfast the night before. I will make either a smoothie or oatmeal with fruit and pop it in the fridge for the morning. Some days the thought of throwing together something to eat is exhausting. If you want more energy, add some spinach or green powder to your smoothie. I love The Daily Good greens from Aloha. Plus, the additional vitamins help keep your immune system up, something easily compromised as you lose sleep.

Weekly outings with Clint are important for me. You need to know there is life after sleep regression. You also need to know it is possible to have a relaxing life with your baby. It can be something as small as a quick trip to get groceries, or an all morning outing with the family on the weekend. Being in new environments also helps build confidence in yourself as a mother and increases a bond with your baby. At least, that’s how I feel about it. The background noise and different surroundings are good for your baby to be exposed to, while providing a welcome change of scenery for me as well!

A Guide to the Best Crime Podcasts

I got super into listening to podcasts in late 2014 when we moved abroad. It was an easy way to pass the time and I found hearing the English language to be rather soothing at that point. We were living in Germany and a German speaker I was not. Anyway, I found a great variety of podcasts to listen to: history, self improvement, documentary (hello Serial!), but I was left wanting when it came to my favorite genre of all time. The topic of true crime. Podcasts hadn’t quite blown up to what they are today, though they were increasing in popularity by the day. I was able to find some true crime shows, but they didn’t have the quality or content I was craving.

Thankfully, that void has been filled.

Not all podcasts are for everyone, that is also – and possibly, especially – true with such a sensitive topic as murder. Clint and I spend a few hours each week catching up on my podcast queue. I will be in big trouble when he becomes more aware and starts talking, I don’t want his first word to be “murder”. Until then, I will enjoy my guilty pleasures and I hope this guide helps in choosing which station will speak to your soul.

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If you want your murder stories told to you by the drunk frat guys next door, you will enjoy The Last Podcast on the Left. This one is not for the easily offended, but it is crazy entertaining and in many cases, the guys really do their research.

lore

If you’re into folklore and ghost stories, check out Lore. The host of this podcast is perfect for the genre. His voice captures the creepiness and weight of each topic. Some topics are merely stories, some are murders or crimes from the past told in a different light.

My Favorite Murder

If you’re listening for the story telling and aren’t too fact obsessed, you’ll like My Favorite Murder. If you read my August Favorites post, you have already heard of this one. MFM is my hands down favorite. I have made my way through all of their archived episodes an anxiously await the new ones each week.

criminal

If you like to examine crime from a number of angles, and not just murder, head over to Criminal. Criminal puts society in a different light. You end up empathizing with certain subjects, or rooting for the guy on the inside. Very cool.

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If you’re into something a little bit creepier than all of the above, I recommend True Crime Garage. From the audio clips they play to the intense individuals they profile, this one might be the creepiest to listen to while home alone.

someone-knows-something

If you’re into a super in depth analysis of one particular crime, tune into Someone Knows Something. SKS reminds me of the Netflix series, Making a Murderer. There are interviews, perspectives from people who have been there, and fantastic storytelling that allows you to really envision each scene. This is the most recent one I’ve stumbled upon – and binge listened to – this month.

Happy listening!

September Favorites

Though it is still blisteringly hot outside, fall IS coming! I think… This month has been all about trying to create a schedule for Clint. I likely would not have survived without a few of my select favorites featured below. A large dose of comedy, followed by some good old workout endorphins, and a new coffee treat are my key players at the moment!

Drink

chile-mocha

Starbucks Chile Mocha – I love a little spice. Starbucks new fall flavor doesn’t pack quite as much heat as I was hoping, but it is seriously flavorful. If you’re wanting to switch it up from your usual autumn PSL, give this one a go.

Home Item

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Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle – I am unbelievably ready for fall this year. This summer was way too hot and fall means apple cider and delicious new candles. Plus I have my eye on a cozy sweater or two! As fall approaches, snuggle up with this candle. Surprisingly, it’s not too sweet and floats through the entire house wonderfully.

Netflix

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John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid – I really didn’t think I would have anything new for this category. I’ve been watching my go to shows: Poirot, Parks & Rec, The Office… But after putting Clint to bed one night I was scrolling through the comedy section and saw this stand up special. I don’t often find stand up funny. The comedians tend to lean toward the vulgar and extreme just to get a few laughs, but this was hilarious! Plus, this special was Emmy nominated. Highly recommended.

Insta

We Rate Dogs (weratedogs) – I admittedly will follow as many funny animal accounts I can find, but this one is my favorite. Whoever writes their captions is my humor twin. They feature dogs, not dogs, and dogs they claim not to be dogs. You have to scroll through to see what I mean. We Rate Dogs never fails to act as a pick me up at the end of my day.

Way to Stay Fit

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Pop Sugar Fitness – I’ve followed their YouTube channel for years, but haven’t done too many workouts until the past month. I like how they break them up by time increment (20, 30, and 40 minute workouts). I typically click the first one in line based on how much free time I think Clint will give me that morning. Then I work my way through the line up! The variety has allowed me to lose a few pounds, they feature a number of top fitness instructors as well as their own routines. Modifications are always included and the time does, thankfully, pass really quickly when you’re doing these routines!

Enjoy!

 

Post Baby Wardrobe

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Getting back in pre-baby shape can be a real pain in the butt. Literally and figuratively. It’s also a battle you will never really win. If you don’t get back in shape fast enough, you are judged. You must not care. You certainly couldn’t be trying that hard! If you lose the weight too fast, then you are unhealthy. How dare you risk your health when you are raising a baby! Motherhood is full of double standards you will never survive unscathed. At the very least, you should be comfortable on your journey.

I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on “in between” clothes. I bought a handful of pregnancy clothes, but tried to use as many regular clothes as possible. The same philosophy applies to after pregnancy as well.

At ten pounds away from my goal weight, I’m still wearing my maternity jeans and tops at least half the time. I don’t want to risk stretching out my normal clothes and having to spend more money later. Plus, honestly, bending down to play with your baby is just easier in stretchy pants.

Bottoms:

To make my maternity jeans fit, I wear my belly band over the top of them and fold that and the top of my maternity jeans over. It acts like an elastic belt, and helps suck in your core a little bit as well! Most people will not be able to tell your jeans come with a stretchy waist, and if they do notice, they’re looking too closely anyway.

The reverse it true as well. As your every day pants begin to fit, use the belly band as an elastic belt to hold them up.

Footwear:

Easy to put on shoes are a life saver. Somedays you’re in such a haze getting the baby ready, you’re unsure if you can successfully do the same for yourself. Enter slip ons. I love Keds. I am a total soccer mom at heart on that one. These are rather fashionable as far as Keds go and you know you can safely navigate the stairs with your baby in your arms while wearing these.

Keds Chambray Stripe SneakersKeds Crashback Chambray Stripe Slip-On Sneaker

Tops:

Comfortable tops to wear while breast feeding can be tricky. Most days, I simply wear a camisole and throw a maternity shirt or tee over it before heading out the door. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll wear a tank like the one below. It’s flow so it doesn’t cling too tightly to your still healing belly. It’s also not too difficult to navigate while breast feeding.

Twisted Seam TankWho What Wear Twisted Seam Tank

Dresses:

If you’re heading back to a professional environment, or have a special event coming up you need a go to dress. I love this one and plan to wear it to Clint’s christening in October. Look for details like adjustable cinching around the waist. It’s equally forgiving and flattering.

Belted Slip DressWho What Wear Belted Slip Dress

Other bits:

Accessorize with whatever you feel is flattering. If you’re a new mom, chances are pampering yourself with a hot shower and tinted moisturizer will leave you feeling you can take on any obstacle coming your way. Your body will more than likely take a while to get back to your ideal shape, and that’s more than okay. Feeling your best often stems from dressing in a flattering manner. Even if that simply means having clean yoga pants to put on in the morning.

Don’t forget to take care of you, mamas! xx

Stationery Must Haves – Back to School Style

There’s something about the start of a new school year that I just love. Though I haven’t gone “back to school” myself since 2010, the fresh planners and notebooks make this my almost favorite time of year, second only to my love of the Christmas season.

While we live in an increasingly digital age – people keep calendars in their iPhones and opt to bring their laptops to class instead of binders for notes I have always preferred paper products. Pretty pens/pencils, planners, notebooks, and all the desk accessories I can get my hands on. Stationery stores are my happy place. I’ve always been excited about school and learning, but my favorite part was sitting in class with a perfectly fresh notebook on my desk and a wonderfully smooth pen in my hand. Once a year or so I still treat myself to these new products and then obsess about finding the perfect purpose for each notebook and color coded Sharpie.

Back to School Collage-2

1 Kate Spade Mint Deco Sticky Note Set // 2 Blush Marble Custom Planner //
3 Everyday Calendar Stickers // 4 Le Pen – Amethyst //
5 Kate Spade Bow Paper Clips // 6 Foil Monogram Stationery // 7 Pantone Notebooks

Paper Source has the best planners. I’ve been getting my planners from there for a few years now, and am asking for a super cute customized one for Christmas. Keeping it organized can be tricky, I like to use post its for reminders, daily to do lists, or to simply help emphasize important tasks. Stickers are awesome as attractive appointment reminders and upcoming events, I like to use them on the monthly view pages and write in the detail on the weekly sheets.

Le Pens are great as they have a fine tip and don’t leak through to the next page. There are multi packs and a variety of colors. The amethyst one is my favorite. Cute paper clips make it easy to mark the month/week you are currently on. That way, you don’t have to be concerned about easy access or trying to keep it open on your desk. Some people swear by leaving their planners solely on their desk, as not to lose it, but I prefer to take it with me if I will be away for awhile or know I have scheduling to do.

Quality stationery should always be kept on hand in your home office. Currently, I’m really into anything monogrammed or personalized. Paper Sources selection is great and reasonably priced. Crane and Co. makes gorgeous cards with envelope details to boot, but it can be more costly.

Lastly, I find it difficult to resist a good notebook. I know a number of paper enthusiasts agree with me on this one! I currently have an embarrassingly large stash of notebooks in a variety of sizes, even those not too useful “pocket sized” ones. I use them to keep track of more intense lists and goals, or just to jot down things I find interesting when I read a book or listen to podcasts. I recycle the pages as I make my way through my long term agenda. Happy organizing!